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It took eighteen days (or was it thirty years?) but finally the man who once said “I have a PhD in stubbornness” has stepped down.

Undoubtedly, Egypt’s struggles are far from over — there are still too many unknowns at this stage — but for those of us watching from the other side of the world, what an exhilarating ride it’s been.

There’s also still no single answer to the question I posed last week — why now? — and President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation only raises more questions.  What will the military takeover mean for the country? Can the army make good on its promise to ensure fair and peaceful elections? Will the crowd that’s organized so bravely on the streets be able to find solid political footing in the halls of parliament? What will become of mid-level government officials who supported the old regime? What will become of Mubarak himself? Who will step up to fill the vacuum of democratic leadership? How will the United States reposition itself towards the new Egypt? How will Egypt’s economy regain its footing after three weeks of this $300-million-dollar-a-day disruption? What will this upheaval mean for the rest of the Mideast?

So far, Egypt’s revolution has been the most-covered international news story in 4 years — and it looks like the story is just getting started.

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Another winter storm, another revolution.  With more terrible weather expected overnight, I’ve packed up for yet another stay in a hotel across the street from my office — keeping tabs on Al Jazeera’s ongoing Egypt coverage all the while.  If today’s developments are any indicator, this week’s looking to be another very busy one at work. News from the Middle East has been nothing short of riveting, and I’ve been proud to be part of The Takeaway’s standout coverage of protests in the Middle East (including the brand new podcast launched today).

I’m still gathering my thoughts — and, like everyone else watching developments in Algeria, Yemen, Tunisia, Jordan, and Egypt from afar, “monitoring a very fluid situation,” to say the least — so for now, I’ll leave this post with just one question that’s been on my mind. It stems, in part, from an anecdote relayed by Wendell Steavenson, blogging for The New Yorker from Cairo:

A girl who had collapsed with stomach pains was brought in, carried in the arms of an Army captain. Her parents had taken their four children to the square in the morning and the family had been there for six or seven hours. Her father, Amr Helmy, a former Army officer, told me that he believed it was important that they see the demonstration. “They need to start getting used to them!” he joked, “so they learn that they don’t have to be afraid. Our generation wasted our life in nonsense.”

A courageous sentiment.  But why now?  That’s what I’ve been wondering.  It’s also the question that was posed on The Takeaway this morning by Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sedat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland:

For me as a political scientist, I’ve always said (and I’ve repeated it over and over again), the puzzle to me has never been, ‘are there reasons to revolt?’  The puzzle has always been, ‘why haven’t people revolted already?’

I’ll be mulling this over as events in Egypt unfold — and maybe when the storm passes, the answer will be more apparent.